Anne Heche had a trace amount of cocaine — but no alcohol — in her system when she piloted her blue Mini Cooper into a Los Angeles house last August, sparking the fire that would ultimately kill her, coroner officials confirmed Tuesday.
Benzoylecgonine, an inactive metabolite of cocaine, was detected in the blood that was drawn from Heche at the hospital following the crash the morning of Aug. 5, per a final autopsy report released Tuesday.
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“There was no evidence of impairment by illicit substances at the time of the crash,” Sarah Ardalani, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Coroner, said in a statement.
A urine specimen also turned up hits for fentanyl and cannabis, but the fentanyl had been given to Heche for pain after she arrived at the hospital, and the cannabinoids detected were “consistent with prior use but not at the time of injury,” the final autopsy report obtained by Rolling Stone states.
Coroner officials said Heche’s cause and manner of death remained unchanged: it was an accident caused by inhalation and thermal injuries that starved her brain of oxygen and caused it to swell.
“The sternal fracture she sustained is expected to be painful while breathing when she was in her vehicle, further complicating oxygenation and therefore significantly contributed to death,” the report states.
Heche was trapped in her vehicle for approximately 30 minutes as a fire raged around her, the report confirms. She had suffered first-degree burns on approximately 40 percent of her body surface by the time fire officials extracted her from the scorched car, it says.
Heche, 53, was declared brain dead on Aug. 11, a week after the tragic crash. She remained on life support for several days so some of her organs could be donated, her family said at the time.
“Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit. More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life’s work — especially moving the needle for acceptance of who you love,” a statement from her family sent to Rolling Stone said. “She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and dearly missed for her light.”
It was the morning of Aug. 5 that Heche, 53, drove into the one-story residence in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood, authorities said.
“The car did leave the roadway at the T intersection and went up over the curb. It was airborne before it went into the house and was approximately 30 feet inside the small home when it came to a rest,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey previously told Rolling Stone.
Heche was rushed from the scene of the wild crash in critical condition. “The home was well-involved in fire,” Humphrey said. “One woman who was home was at the back of the home and thankfully and miraculously escaped injury.”
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